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How to improve Liga MX: The 10/8 Rule

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We all love Liga MX but there are several ways the league can improve. In this series, we go over a few as the new season kicks off this weekend.

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After many years of asking for reforms in the naturalized/foreign player debate, the FMF and team owners finally decided to tackle the subject. This resulted in the new 10/8 rule, which stated that Mexican teams would have at most 10 foreign players and at least 8 Mexican players in their game-day roster. The law also states that for a player to be Mexican he has to be either born in Mexico or be registered as a Mexican player before turning 19. This didn't just group naturalized players with foreign players and placed a limit on them, which didn't exist before, but at the same time eliminated the five foreign player limit that did exist.

The criticism to this rule was widespread as technically now we have a law that literally states that a Mexican player can be a minority on game-day and thus makes meaningless the criticism that so many naturalized players hurt the development of Mexican players. The criticism is so bad that Liga MX has announced that starting in 2017 the law would change to 9/9 instead of 10/8. Changing the rule before the initial rule goes into effect shows how flawed it is. My proposal to deal with this problem is to follow the Norwegian rule about foreign players.

The distinction in Norway is very easy and would fix a lot of the problems Liga MX's rule has. In Norway, the National team is the factor that determines whether one is a foreign player or not. If you can play for the Norwegian National team, you're a domestic player. If you can't, you're foreign. It's a simple thing but this simple rule change can help fix a lot of problems.

"Naturalizados"

The main reason foreign and naturalizados are an issue all comes back to the national team. If national teams weren't such a big part of the sport, there would be no issue about how many foreigners play (Major League Baseball the best example). FIFA rules make it so a lot of players who are naturalized Mexican citizens can never play with the Mexico national team because they are cap tied to their birth national team's (Basanta, Quintero, Sambueza for example). Also, the Mexican laws only require two years of living in Mexico to become a naturalized citizen, if you're from Latin American descent. However, FIFA rules state that a player has to live for five years after turning 18 to be able to play for Mexico. The lack of coherence between those laws could put Mexico in a situation in which they might play with a naturalized player that is Mexican to them but not to FIFA and result in a sanction (something that was very close to happening when Mexico was trying to cap an ineligible player, Rubens Sambueza, for the New Zealand playoff in 2013). By having the national team eligibility be the determining factor, things like this would be less to likely to occur.


"Mexican born players"

Another problem with the new rule is how badly it handles the question of players born in the US to Mexican parents. Mexican laws are clear that children born to Mexican parents outside Mexico have the right to Mexican citizenship and they are considered "Mexican born", not "Naturalized citizens". The new rule, makes it as if those same players would have to be registered with the FMF as Mexican players before 19 or they will count as foreign players even though they were always Mexican. As "Mexican born" players, they are always eligible to play for Mexico unless cap tied (as opposed to naturalized players). Thus following the Norwegian path, this would be solved. It will also have players lose their Mexican player status if they get cap tied with their other national team (Edgar Castillo, Omar Gonzalez, Michael Orozco are all cases of players who are cap-tied and can't ever play for Mexico) which can give leverage to the Mexico national team if they are interested in a Liga MX career.

Following the Norwegian path is the most logical way to try to fix the problems the FMF tried to. If they use the national team to determine which players are Mexican or foreign and place a cap on foreign players, then all those self created problems will end or at least be significantly improved. After all, national teams are the reason for the distinction in the first place.